KUALA LUMPUR: Asean countries should work towards international standards in providing universal internet connectivity in order for the digital economy to grow, said a digital marketing and personal branding trainer.
The founder of Digital Marketing Rider, Shalini Subramaniam, said an education system that will adapt to demands for a digital future and stronger safety nets for data protection is needed for the growth of the digital economy.
In an exclusive interview with Bernama recently, she said that Southeast Asia has the potential to become one of the world’s top digital economies because it is the fastest-growing internet market in the world.
She also quoted a report by the Communications Department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which says that the Internet has reached most people in Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, and Singapore, but more than 70 per cent of Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos and Myanmar remains offline and can’t fully participate in the digital economy.
Shalini said connectivity is a critical tool to enhance opportunities for individuals and companies and added that access to a broadband network is essential for the success of digital entrepreneurs, namely from the Asean member states.
She opined that key obstacles like lack of digital awareness and trust in digital technologies need to be addressed first in each Asean member state in order for the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to achieve full potential in the access and use of digital technologies.
“It is important for Asean to identify reliable broadband services besides strengthening the key enablers of Internet growth. Forming a task force will help to identify these key matters to shape and support the implementation,” she said.
Asked whether specific laws are needed to help guide and regulate the digital economy in Malaysia, Shalini said as the government continues to support and focus its efforts on building the nation’s digital economy, more specific policies to monitor and supervise online transactions to secure customer privacy, trust and security need to be introduced.
In a related development, Shalini said Malaysians are also increasingly looking towards online solutions for their everyday needs.
She said Malaysians understand that digital payments are not only safer but also efficient and cost-effective as they don’t need to manage physical money.
The digital marketing trainer said according to Malaysia Digital Marketing Statistics 2020, an average Malaysian spent time using the Internet for 8 hours and 5 minutes a day.
“Malaysia has 80 per cent of Internet penetration by total population as of Jan 8, 2019.
“Understanding this, more businesses will adopt digitalisation, which means Malaysia’s digital economy is set to continue its growth momentum,” said the certified eUsahawan Trainer from Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).
Shalini said the Covid-19 pandemic has severely impacted business start-ups in Malaysia and it is crucial for the government to provide them with — among others — tax exemptions at a certain rate, besides mentorship programme and training opportunities.
She said this should be done across all different industries and sizes of businesses.
Malaysia will chair the first Asean Digital Ministers’ Meeting (ADGMIN1) via teleconference from Jan 21 to Jan 22.
Themed “ASEAN: A Digitally Connected Community”, the meeting seeks to strengthen cooperation among Asean countries towards building digital ecosystems as a pillar in the post-Covid-19 development plan.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations or Asean has 10 member states namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam. – Bernama